Saturday, March 05, 2011
Weekend Cooking: NZ in a Glass
If I am going to buy wine, I usually stick to a couple of brands that I know, and I don't really take that many chances. I should start going to wineries to find some other brands.
When I was at an age to drink legally, most of my friends were either non drinkers or, probably closer to the truth, drank in secret as a result of the fact that we were affiliated with The Salvation Army, who have no alcohol as one of their rules. As we got older, and started drifting away from those rules, it was generally beer or spirits that we drank.
The closest I ever got to going on a winery tour was when I was about 15 and we did a bicycle tour of the Barossa Valley. We did stop at a couple of wineries as we peddled our way around the area, but obviously that was all non alcoholic. What a hard slog that was. I was the only person in the group who had a bike without gears, and there were lots of hills!
I remember going to a pub in London and have a discussion with some other people at the bar. I can't have been living in London for all that long because I still sounded like an Aussie at this stage. They asked me where I was from and when I said Adelaide, they were very impressed - lots of lovely wine in the Barossa Valley. I had to somewhat sheepishly admit that even though I lived around 45 minutes away from there I hadn't actually had wine from the Barossa. Even sadder is the fact that my grandparents live just around the corner from one of the more famous wineries in the Swan Valley area near Perth, and I have never been there either or tasted any of their wines!
These days the wine tasting tour still hasn't happened because someone has to be the designated driver and then there is the issue of having the boy with me, but a couple of Mondays ago I got the opportunity to do some wine tasting because the wine came to us here in Melbourne.
The event was called New Zealand in a Glass and featured around 80 wineries in a large room, all trying to tempt us to try their wares, which could include anywhere between 3 and 9 different types of wine to try at each stand. Now, you would have to be a pretty dedicated drinker to try something from every winery there, and it would be pretty pointless because it would be very difficult to remember which ones you liked or didn't like, let alone thinking about the fact that you had to get up and go to work the next day. Someone suggested that you should write notes as you go around, but even that was a bit problematic because I had my handbag, the gift bag we got (which included a very nice Riedel glass that we got to keep and a bottle of water) plus the wine glass. Adding paper and a pen was never really going to work! The fact that there was only one glass in the gift bag means that I have this one really nice glass, but I couldn't see how I was going to fix that issue short of accosting someone outside and taking their glass so that I could at least start a collection. Will just have to be extra careful not to break it!
There was a group of six of us, and our initial strategy was to try and stay out of the crowds by going to the far side of the room, and then from then on you chose which table to go to depending on how pretty their poster looked, or if there was no one else standing at the table at the time. Another factor was how close to the food tables the stand was - there wasn't a lot of variety food wise, but they did have some cheeses, small rolls etc. The camembert that was being served was good, but the highlight was a really strong cheddar which we kept on gravitating towards, which was great served on a cracker with a bit of quince paste.
I thought I would mention a couple of the different brands that were standouts for me. I should note that this is not a paid advertisement in any way. They are just wines that I tried and liked during the evening. I also know nothing really about types of grapes, or body or smelling strawberries and vanilla in the wine, so this is in no way a professional commentary on what I tried!
Giesen Wines - Apparently this is a pretty well established brand here in Australia, but I had never tried it before. I really liked Giesen "The Brothers" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009.
Golden Hills Estate - the wines from here were winners with both the red and white wine drinkers in the group, with one of my friends declaring one of the red wines her favourite of the whole night. Available to try were Golden Hills Estates Sauvignon Black Nelson 2010, Golden Hills Estates Pinot Gris Nelson 2009, Golden Hills Estates Pinot Noir Nelson 2009 and Golden Hills Estates Syrah Nelson 2009 (I am pretty sure that this was the red that was really well liked. The only issue with this winery (and it was something that came up a few times during the night) was that there is no Australian distributor for their wines. Earlier in the day there had been a trade show so they are working on that, but it was a bit disappointing to find a wine that you liked but then you would have to go to New Zealand to buy it!
No. 1 Family Estate - this family owned winery specialise in methode traditionelle sparkling wines, and they had three options to choose from Shooting Star Sparking Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough NV), No. 1 Family Estate Cuvee No. 1 Sparkling (Marlborough NV) and No. 1 Family Estate Cuvee No. 8 Sparkling (Marlborough NV). The no. 1 was really nice, but it is more a special celebration wine!
There was also a really nice Blanc de Blanc that I tried, but I can't remember what winery it is from. That was bound to happen.
Not all of the wines were great. There were a couple that were very average, and then there was one exhibitor who was too busy having a conversation with someone to even take a break from talking to her to acknowledge you as he was pouring the sample. That is probably the most memorable winery name from the whole night, but for all the wrong reasons.
One thing that was kind of amusing was that there was a water company sponsoring the event (water that comes in very groovy bottles), but at various times in the night the salesman was there telling a crowd around him about how the water had a smooth palate and had come to the surface through the minerals etc etc. Amused me to see a water salesman trying to do the same kind of sales pitch as we were getting from the winery sales people.
I've just realised that two of my last three Weekend Cooking posts have been about alcohol! I really don't drink that much! Whenever I buy more wine to put in the fridge my son tells me off because there are already 7 or 8 bottles in the fridge. I keep on telling him that it isn't an issue because the number of bottles in the fridge doesn't ever go down, so I buy them but never actually drink any of them!
So, how about you? Are you a red or white wine drinker? Sparkling or still wine? Do you have a favourite wine, or a favourite wine region, you would like to recommend to us? Or are you strictly a beer or spirits drinker?
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.